Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he has “no choice” but to play a team of reserves and youngsters against West Ham in the FA Cup.
Klopp’s first team played 120 minutes in midweek as Liverpool reached the Capital One Cup final and ran a collective 156 kilometres in their eighth game in 25 days.
Dejan Lovren and Steven Caulker will form an experienced centre-half pairing but there will be outings for Jordon Ibe, Brad Smith, Joao Teixeira, Sheyi Ojo and other players involved in beating Exeter in the FA Cup third round.
“It was easy to be brave against Exeter but sometimes you have to be brave in a moment when you really need it and that’s what we’re doing now,” said Klopp.
“But I don’t feel I’m being too brave because I trust these players. If we win the Capital One Cup it would be a cup for the whole squad because we played different teams, against Bournemouth it was a very young team too, and if we go through in the FA Cup it will be the same.
“We can’t ignore the other games. If they are injured we cannot use them and if we know about the intensity of the last game and the short break to the next one I can’t say: ‘Let’s go again until you lay on the ground.’ That doesn’t work. There’s no alternative for us.
“All the players with fresh legs and a normal situation like Dejan and Steve Caulker will play. Then all the other positions we have to fill and that means we will have to bring the young lads. We have seen them have good games and now it’s the next step.
“I know it’s West Ham and, of course, that’s a different thing to play against them in the shape they’re in. At this moment it’s very different but we want to go through and we need the crowd to create an atmosphere for us again. Let’s have another good night together.
“The Stoke game was maybe not the best game ever – it was successful – but on the other side it was intensive and we broke all records. The squad ran 156km. I had a few games with overtime but I’ve never had this number before. Stoke had only three kilometres less.
“We can’t ignore this and we will not ignore this. It will be a different team for sure to the last game, we have no other choice.”